Contact Us

We would love to hear from you about your intended project.

Use the form on the right to contact SPACIOUS about an initial consultation or email us at:



54 George's Street Lower
Dublin, County Dublin,

01 5585205

Award Wining Architects based in Monkstown, Co.Dublin and working in all surrounding counties.

Specialising in sensitive contemporary design for domestic extensions, renovations, new-build houses and interior design.  We also design and build custom joinery.

RIAI registered architects, project managers & interior designers

Dublin Architecture Blog

Hofler Architects Dublin  - Our Blog of our news and views.

Filtering by Category: Conservation


Paul Mulhern


Traditional long, narrow, single-storey farm buildings on the slopes of Knocknafreaghaun. Image via

Traditional long, narrow, single-storey farm buildings on the slopes of Knocknafreaghaun. Image via

A publication by the Heritage Council.

"Built by local builders, or the farmer himself, of readily available local materials and are truly vernacular architecture – We might even say that farm buildings of this type were sustainable before the concept was even considered".

A farm building reuse project we are working on in Carlow.

A farm building reuse project we are working on in Carlow.


The current focus on rural development provides an opportunity to see old farm buildings as an asset in finding alternative income for farm families.  A range of small-scale uses for old buildings may be possible without substantial alteration.

  • Unoccupied houses in working farmyards may be inhabited by a member of the family rather than converted to agricultural use
  • Old farmyards can be converted for craft workshops or tourism and self-catering; this may be especially viable in suburban areas or close to tourist or walking routes
  • Small-scale manufacturing industry, such as cheese- making, small-scale engineering, furniture making, and car maintenance offer other possible uses
  • Extending dwelling houses by incorporating adjoining farm buildings is sometimes possible without undue removal of cross walls and other elements of the buildings
  • Use of converted outbuildings for dwellings, holiday and self-catering accommodation may be permitted by the planning authority depending on the policies in the development plan.

Guidelines for the Repair and Maintenance of Traditional Buildings and Farmyards:

Ballinacarrig Farm Proposals, Carlow  - Hofler Architects

Ballinacarrig Farm Proposals, Carlow  - Hofler Architects

Consult your local authority conservation officer for advice on the repair of ‘listed’ farm buildings (those included in the RPS) and any grant aid available for such work.

Continue to use old farm buildings where possible

Avoid ‘gutting’ old buildings as this erases much of their historic value

Carefully site new buildings so as to avoid damaging an old yard

When repairing old farm buildings, like for like should apply.  Therefore similar materials to those used historically should be employed. These include stone, lime plaster and lime mortar, clay/mud, thatch, stone slates or flags, corrugated iron (round profile)

  • Retain old roof structures – these are all too easily lost during re-roofing
  • Retain old windows and doors
  • Protect buildings from fire by ensuring that electrical installation is to modern standards
  • Keep all stone walls in good repair, using stone similar to that in the wall if it needs to be repaired, and lime mortar with flush or recessed finish. On older buildings, it is generally not a good idea to use cement-based mortar or render to repair or plug gaps in old walls
  •  Retain cobbled floors and yard surfaces where these survive
  • Maintain and repair old timber and iron gates along with their piers and flanking walls
  • Keep old farm machinery under cover to protect it from the elements
  • Use traditional colour schemes and roof forms to help new buildings fit more easily into the overall complex
  • Keep corrugated iron roofs and claddings in good order by painting with appropriate paints
  • Keep a good source of water close by for dealing with fire
  • Keep all wells and springs free of pollutants 

Download the Heritage Council publication "Traditional Buildings on Irish Farms"

National Rural Network - "Conservation of Old Farm Buildings" - Ireland

Contact Hofler Architects to discuss conservation and alternative uses for your farm buildings here - Hofler Architects

Read about the Rock Farm Straw Bale Project here

Alterations to a Terraced Protected Structure, Dublin 6

Paul Mulhern

There are three main elements to this protected structure renovation project:

1. The addition of a projecting bath ‘oriel’ to the side wall of the rear return at first floor level. This zinc-clad element to the rear of the house facilitates proper access to the rear room of the return. The rear room is not currently useable as a bedroom as it can be accessed only through the bathroom. The oriel and the changes to the positions of partition walls in the return will result in a useable third bedroom. The only external materials to be used are standing-seam zinc and hardwood (windows and underside).

2. The attic has been converted to accommodate frequent-use storage space. The existing space is largely unencumbered by structural timbers but is slightly below the height standards to be used as a habitable room.  A contemporary hardwood stair with built-in storage below has been  installed to rise from the existing landing area. A rear-facing dormer window is proposed to provide natural light, ventilation and an increased area of headroom. As with the bathroom oriel, the external materials will be zinc and hardwood. The right-hand window sash (when viewed from the rear) has clear glass and is openable. It has been recessed by 340mm in order to blinker the view out and limit any possibility of overlooking. It looks out only over the roofs of the rear returns.  The left-hand window sash is non-openable and has opaque glass installed to allow light in but prevent views out.

3. The original roof coverings to the main house and return were removed and replaced by a previous owner with artificial slate. The works undertaken include removal of the artificial slate and replacement with natural Welsh slate on new battens and breathable felt. This significant improvement to the roofing materials is the only element of the works to this protected structure visible from the street.

RIAI Protected Structure Information Link.

Talk to SPACIOUS Architects to arrange a free, no-obligation initial consultation for your project.

[Completed while Paul was a partner in his previous practice].

What is an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA)?

Paul Mulhern

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000-2010, a planning authority must include an objective in its development plan to preserve the character of a place, area, group of structures or townscape if it is of the opinion that its inclusion is necessary for the preservation of the character of that area.  Such an area is known as an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) and it is defined as a place, area, group of structures or townscape that is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest or contributes to the appreciation of protected structures. 

Reasons for Designating an ACA

An ACA is designated in recognition of the special character of an area where individual elements such as building heights, building lines, roof lines, materials, construction systems, designed landscapes, public spaces and architectural features combine to give a place a harmonious, distinctive and special quality which merits protection.

Protecting the special character of such areas is important as this serves to reinforce the identity of areas, local towns and villages, recognises our cultural and architectural heritage and contributes to the attractiveness of these areas as places in which to live and work. From an economic perspective, Ireland’s heritage is a key element of the tourism experience. It draws visitors here and is a significant part of what they enjoy once they are here.

In acknowledging the architectural and historic significance of our towns and villages throughout the county by designating Architectural Conservation Areas, the primary aim is to provide for change while protecting character. In this way it is accepted that Architectural Conservation Areas are not open-air museums but living communities that will inevitably continue to develop and change.

The aim of the planning process in managing development within ACAs is therefore to focus on ensuring that future development is carried out in a manner sympathetic to the special character of that area.This is achieved by giving particular consideration to the impact of proposed development on the character of the ACA, in order to achieve a balance between the need for change and the objective of retaining the special qualities for which the area was designated. 

Bessborough Parade, Rathmines, Dublin 6 - We have completed two extension & refurbishment projects to protected structures on the street

Bessborough Parade, Rathmines, Dublin 6 - We have completed two extension & refurbishment projects to protected structures on the street

What needs planning permission?

The protection of an ACA relates to the external appearance.

As an ACA includes the rear of buildings and the open spaces most works to the outside of a building or structure in an ACA will need planning permission.

If, for example you proposed to build a small extension, change the roof materials or windows, install a roof-light or satellite dish, form a parking space, strip off plaster, or erect signage you will probably need permission.

Planning permission will not be needed for works to the interior unless it involves a change of use.  Normal repair and maintenance work will not require permission, unless it uses materials or details which are not appropriate to the structure. For the avoidance of doubt, detailed advice can be obtained from the Planning Authority in relation to details, methods and materials in advance of work starting.

Links to PDF guidance documents:

Contact us with any queries:  SPACIOUS Architects, DUN LAOGHAIRE, Co. Dublin

Monkstown: Free Public Lecture

Paul Mulhern

Knox Hall, Monkstown Road, Monkstown, Co. Dublin.  Tuesday 9th June 2015 at 7.30pm.

The lecture will be given by Seamus Cannon and Carole Cullen, authors of the recent history "Monkstown, A Victorian Village".  Dr. Seamus Cannon is a an educationalist with a love of local history, lecturer and a former director of the Blackrock Education Centreand is editor of "The Book of Dun Laoghaire" and "The book of Bray".  He is a resident of Monkstown.

Carole Cullen is a local artist and photographer who collaborated with Fr. Quilter in his research of Monkstown.  She teaches both art and photography and is also a Monkstown resident.

"Monkstown, A Victorian Village" is an affectionate and evocative celebration of the social and architectural heritage of Monkstown.

All are welcome. Contact or 01-2802130 for further information.

Hofler Architects, Monkstown.